Monday, March 31, 2014

Insecurity ...

I had a Holy Spirit punch to the gut today when I was reading Psalm 139.  I came to verses 13 and 14 which read: "(13) For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  (14) I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

The "punch" came when I asked myself this question:  When is the last time I actually praised God for how He has made me?  If I'm honest, I don't think I ever have.  I have looked up at the stars in the middle of the night and praised God for making them.  I have stood at the Grand Canyon and literally knelt down and praised God for it.  I have walked through Yellowstone National Park and the mountains of Alaska and praised God for His creation.  I have hiked through the Narrows in Zion National Park and was overwhelmed with the beauty of what He has made.  But, never once have I ever praised God for making me the way He has made me.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm probably not the only one.  

I'm really good at praising God for how He has made others.  It's really easy for me to look at someone else and say they are "fearfully and wonderfully made."  But, it's also really easy for me to start comparing myself to those same people believing that they are more ... well ... made than I am.  I doubt this is what God has in mind when He gave us Psalm 139.   Comparisons will always lead to insecurity.  The more I compare, the more insecure I feel.  I have a feeling this is probably what the enemy wants ... to keep us so occupied with who we are NOT that we forget who we ARE and, probably even more importantly, WHOSE we are.  

For the past two years I have chosen a "word" that I desire God to develop in my life.  At the beginning of this year I chose the word "secure."  Let me tell you why:  Insecurity is defined as "a lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt."  It is also defined as "not adequately protected; i.e. an insecure fortress."  Contrast that with author and speaker Beth Moore's definition of being secure:  "the real mark of security is the ability to be around anyone, regardless of how attractive or intelligent (or in man terms: successful, manly, in shape, popular, athletic, etc) and still maintain personal confidence and contentment."  The mark of real security of what I'm shooting for this year.  I've been asking God to work in me and to continue to develop that in me.  It's certainly a process with steps forward and steps backward, but today, God revealed to me another step in the right direction:  "I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made."  I would invite you to do the same.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parenting 101

When I became a dad 6 1/2 years ago, I had no idea my kids would provide such an endless source of comedic material.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not laugh out loud at something my kids say or do.  They have been such a source of laughter and joy in my life.

I think it was back in 2010 when I first caught myself saying something to my son and I remember thinking to myself, "I can't believe I just said that."  It was like one of the most ridiculous statements ever, but I had to say it because my son was doing it.  I also remember having things happen to me that only happened because I had kids.  So, I thought it would be fun to begin chronicling these types of things and call it "Parenting 101."  There are all sorts of parenting books out there with incredible advice and wisdom.  But, none of them explain what to do when your daughter says, "Mom, daddy is dead so he won't be needing dinner." (An actual quote from our 5-year-old.)  And, so I decided to try to spoof all of the parenting advice out there with some light hearted Parenting 101 tips.  

Out of anything I post on Facebook or Twitter, these actual quotes or events in our home typically generate the most responses.  So, I thought I would post my top 10 favorite Parenting 101 tips from the past few years.  Enjoy ... 

10. Don't get cocky changing diapers.  The minute you do, you get poop on your fingers.

 9. When raising young children, expect about three hits to the groin each day.  (I think I'm still recovering from that one.)

 8. Some days start with the words "Good morning, dad."  Others ... "Dad, there's poop on the floor!"

 7. You will find yourself saying things you've never said before like "Stop cleaning the windows with a hot dog bun."

 6. It's important to give good advice like "That's probably not the best way to drag your brother on the floor."

 5. While mom is nursing the baby, sometimes your 5-year-old will say, "Mom, he looks cute eating off your feeder thing."

 4. You may find yourself saying something like "Take that pencil out of your bottom and go put on a pull-up."

 3. When driving with your 2 and 4 year old passed a farm and you notice cows mating ... it's best to ignore the questions.

 2. Don't panic when your son says things like "When daddy dies, maybe we can mummify him."  He's probably not serious.

 1. Sometimes you have to tell your son "Stop chasing the cats with the badminton racquet" ... but secretly you don't mind.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When Our Faith Gets Tested

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  I guess I believe the reverse of that to be true as well ... With faith it is impossible NOT to please God.  

I believe that God is pleased any time we show trust in Him.  Any time we take a step out, any time we walk in to the unknown, any time we pray a big, crazy, audacious prayer because we believe that our God is more than capable of answering ... I believe those types of things make God smile.  With faith it is impossible not to please God.  But, the mystery behind it all is that, even with great faith, God may still not grant our request asked in faith.  But, just because He may not grant our request does not mean He was unhappy with our request.  Our faith pleases God.

This past week, we had dear friends receive a very difficult diagnosis.  They are in our small group and the husband (Galen) was diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia on Monday.  We had been praying with them and for them ever since there was a scare with the "routine" blood test.  We, and many others, prayed daily.  We believed God could do the impossible because He is a God of impossibilities.  But, our specific request was not granted by Him.  I don't know why, but I do believe God was pleased with the faith that was shown in Him.

Kelli (Galen's wife) wrote a very moving blog post about where she is at with things right now.  It's a powerful reminder for us all.  You can read it here at Rasler's Ramblings.

Please continue to pray for this family. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dad Prayer

Feel free to use this prayer as you pray for your family ...

Father, sincere faith can be passed down through generations.  Paul was reminded of Timothy's sincere faith that first lived in his grandmother Lois and also in his mother Eunice and Paul was convinced that same faith now lived in Timothy.  (2 Timothy 1:5) Please give me a great faith that leaves a legacy in my kids and in my future generations ... the type of faith that is passed on and lives on.  From everlasting to everlasting Your love is with those who fear You, and Your righteousness with their children's children. (Psalm 103:17).  Help me to fear You and walk with You so that Your righteousness will be with all of my future generations and that faith will be passed on.

Friday, March 7, 2014

She's a Champion!

The picture above is of my dear friend, Cheryl.  She's dying of cancer and, at this point, it seems as if God is choosing to receive more glory through her passing than through her healing.  This picture was taken while my friends Jeremiah (worship pastor at Grace) and his wife Marcie were singing to her in her hospital room.  Jeremiah said that Cheryl was his worship leader on that evening.  It is honestly one of the most moving pictures I have seen in quite some time.

I don't fully understand why things like this happen.  It was only a couple of years ago when Cheryl's husband passed away of cancer.  Shortly after he passed away, she was also diagnosed.  Unless God does an absolute miracle (which He is more than capable of doing), her two children will be left without parents in the span of a few short years.  My heart hurts for them and I'm full of questions that probably will never be answered this side of heaven.  What I do know is that God's ultimate goal for His children is Christlikeness.  While my ultimate goal can often be peace and comfort, God's ultimate goal for His kids is to be more like Jesus.  It's often things like this that refine us and shape us and develop in us the character of Jesus.  Through this whole process, I and many others have seen Cheryl respond with an unmatched Christlikeness.  She's fought so bravely and so valiantly.  I would call or visit in an effort to try to be an encouragement to her, but I believe I received so much more encouragement from her than she ever did from me.  In my last visit to her in the hospital, as she was working hard for every breath, she said that she was "so blessed."  Her body may have been failing but her spirit was still very much alive and Jesus was still working in her and through her.  I can only imagine the pride in God's eyes as He watched His dear daughter respond with the character of His only Son.  

In his book, TheThree Battlegrounds, Francis Frangipane said, "Satan is tolerated for one purpose: the warfare between the devil and God's saints thrusts us into Christlikeness, where the nature of Christ becomes our only place of rest and security."  We live in such a broken world.  And, because our world is broken, our bodies can be broken too.  A broken world has cancer.  A broken world loses loved ones.  A broken world creates questions we may never have an answer too.  But, a broken world can thrust us into Christlikeness and we serve a God who can turn "misery into ministry."  Isaiah 61:3 reminds us that God comforts those who are filled with sorrow and He can turn our ashes in to beauty.  It's just what God does.

While our hearts hurt for Cheryl and her family, they also rejoice because she is a daughter of God.  And, from the moment that she was conceived, I believe that God was looking forward to the day when they would meet in heaven for the first time and He would be able to say to her "Well done, Cheryl.  Well done, my good and faithful servant."

A Prayer for Your Family

Feel free to use this prayer as you pray for your family today.  It's from Psalm 20:7 - 8.  Insert your family's name in the blank.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but the _______________________ trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Our enemies are brought to their knees and fall, but the _________________________ rise up and stand firm."  

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Heroes You May Not Know

My family had the opportunity to have dinner with another family Saturday night.  It was a great time to spend together and get to know each other better.  As we were sharing our stories with each other, we began to realize that we all had many people invest in our lives throughout the years ... especially when we were younger.  It was great to simply reflect on the impact these people had on our lives.  

I can think of the many who invested in me during my middle, high school, and college years.  Many were people that were never on stage.  They never started their own ministry.  They didn't give millions to charity.  They were not famous in any way.  Some were quiet.  They could step in to a room and you'd never know they were there.  In the scope of the masses, their impact would seem small.  But, in my eyes, their impact was huge!  I'm so grateful for names most would never recognize: Rory, Cliff, Carolyn, Lynn, Michael, Ron ... these are all names from my teenage and college years that I hold in such high regard.  Their names most would never know, but their work, and the work of many others, continues to this day in my life.  They are certainly heroes to me.

No act of kindness is ever too small.  No prayer you pray for someone else is ever in vain.  Any small act of kindness has the potential of turning in to a big blessing.  We can all be that type of hero.

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